Finding the right dining chairs can be a monumental task. They have to be comfortable, they have to look good, and they need to fit with your table and the style of your room. Whether you’re outfitting a formal dining room or a more casual dining nook in an open-concept kitchen, here’s what you need to know to find perfect chairs.
The Planning Stage
Budget: Never go shopping for any furniture piece without a budget in mind. Dining chairs run from the relatively simple and inexpensive chairs you can finish yourself to extremely pricey. Calculate how much you have to spend, how many chairs you need, and then what you can afford per chair. If you want extra chairs stowed away for bigger groups, give very thoughtful consideration to how many and how often they will get used. Buying four extra chairs to use once a year will greatly decrease the money you have to spend on the chairs that will be out all the time.
Size: Average chair seat heights are 17 to 19 inches, which is perfect for most standard tables. If you’re looking at chairs with arms, however, be sure they will fit beneath the table apron so they can be fully pushed in. If your family is tall, opt for chairs with deeper seats and make sure you measure everything to be sure the chairs will allow enough space for people to pass behind them.
Type: The most common dining chairs are made from wood or wood and upholstery. Opt for solid hardwood chairs over those with veneers or made from wood composite. Other options include metal or plastic dining chairs.
Solid wood chairs have several variations:
- Windsor chairs are classic yet comfortable
- Slat- and Ladder-Back chairs have a simpler finish
- Parsons dining chairs combine wooden frame and constructions with fully upholstered seats and backs.
Ensure any finishes on wood chairs are guaranteed to be water resistant, for example catalyzed finishes.
What to Look For
Fabrics: If buying upholstered chairs, or chairs with removable cushions, leather and microfibre are stain resistant and long-wearing, and tight cotton weaves also wear well.
Quality: Test the arms and legs of all chairs and avoid anything with even a hint of wobble as you get in or out of the chair. This will only get worse with time and use. Have a look under the seat to see how it was finished. If it’s a mess here, there’s a very high chance the manufacturer has cut corners in other places as well. Look for solid construction at all joints – posts and spindles should pass all the way through the seat frame before being glued and secured and then sanded flat and finished.
While the table takes centre stage in most dining rooms, it’s important that the chairs complement the look. You want the room to look good, while your guests feel comfortable to linger over a good conversation, a glass of wine or a delicious dessert.